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Holborn Renewable Energy Network


  1. Overview
  2. How it would work
  3. Funding
  4. Timescales and progress
  5. Disruptions
  6. Future phases
  7. Comments and complaints

Page last updated: 29 July 2021


The Holborn Renewable Energy Network project is the Council's most ambitious energy scheme to date.

It aims to generate renewable energy by using heat from abandoned flooded mines and the River Tyne.

The network could provide renewable energy to Council-owned and other public sector buildings in South Shields.

It is anticipated that the total cost of the scheme will exceed £20m, however, the Council is working with Government departments to maximise any external funding opportunities.


The scheme is a major component in the Council's drive towards becoming carbon neutral by 2030.

It has the potential to:

  • save 2,436 tonnes of carbon a year
  • cut annual carbon emissions by 22 percent
  • save more than £800k a year

How it would work

The scheme would use a combination of technologies:

  • Solar panels, both floating and mounted on an energy centre, would provide much of the electricity to power water sourced heat pumps.
  • Heat pumps would extract heat from water taken from abandoned flooded mines and the River Tyne, converting it into energy in the form of hot water. This hot water would be used to heat buildings in a network of insulated pipes.
  • Gas produced from wood and green waste would also be converted into 100 percent renewable fuel for the energy centre.


Although the overall scheme is still in the development phase, the Council has already been successful in attracting over £4million Government funding for initial enabling works, which include the drilling of boreholes to extract the minewater.

Timescales and progress

Planning permission has been given for the first phase of the project, which is now underway.

From July 2021 to Spring 2022:

Drilling began in July 2021.

  • Two 750 millimetre diameter boreholes will be drilled into the ground to a depth of over 280 metres
  • Pumps will be installed underground to extract water from abandoned flooded mines
  • Wells will be constructed
  • Mine water will be tested

Project completion:

It is expected that the overall project will be completed in 2024/2025 (subject to funding and planning).


Heavy machinery and drilling equipment is in use.

There will be an increase in noise levels during the drilling.

Our contractor has measures in place to minimise the impact of this for those living nearby.

The drilling works have been planned according to health and safety regulations.

Regular updates will be posted on the site notice board.

Future phases

Following the drilling works, and subject to funding and planning permission, Phase 2 will see the development of an energy centre and pipe distribution network.

Overall, the scheme is likely to combine:

  • a river source heat pump
  • a mine water heat pump
  • a combined heat and power (CHP) back-up system
  • solar panels
  • a private wire electrical network with storage battery
  • wood gasification plant

Comments and complaints

If you have any questions about the works call the Customer Contact Centre on 0191 427 7000.

News and updates

First Phase of Major Carbon-Cutting Scheme Underway
20 May 2021

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